While a world was falling apart for fans of the Beatles, George Harrison saw the end of the band in 1970 with relief. "There's more to life than being a Beatle," he is said to have said at the time. After the breakup, he enjoyed success as a solo musician and film producer. But of course Harrison, who succumbed to cancer on November 29, 2001, will always be associated with the Beatles. On Saturday (February 25) he would have been 80 years old.
It was no secret that the mass hype surrounding the group, Beatlemania, was uncanny for the musician, who was considered shy. In contrast to his bandmates, the taciturn Brit found it frightening that rows of young women fainted at their concerts. As early as the mid-1960s, he was already enforcing the Beatles to stop touring, otherwise he threatened to quit. The last regular concert by the "Fab Four" was on August 29, 1966 at Candlestick Park in San Francisco.
Youngest member of the Beatles
Harrison, who was born in Liverpool on February 25, 1943, was the youngest member of the group - and was apparently often treated as such by the Lennon/McCartney duo. His contributions to songwriting were often rejected, especially early in the Beatles' career. "Paul and John had undeniable talent and they made a good duo," Harrison admitted. "But they were also two guys with huge egos that left little room for others."
Harrison is said to have repeatedly argued with McCartney about the musical direction. His rather experimental musical approach initially met with little approval because McCartney insisted on a polished and commercially oriented sound. Nevertheless, singer, guitarist and songwriter Harrison had a significant influence on the development of the Beatles. He contributed to classics like "Something", "While My Guitar Gently Weeps", "Here Comes The Sun" or "Taxman" and shaped some of their most innovative works.
However, as the "Fab Four" grew in success and popularity, tensions and disagreements only increased. Harrison didn't feel valued enough. The conflict culminated in the group's dissolution in 1970 over creative differences. The last studio album "Let It Be" was only released afterwards.
Harrison organized many benefit concerts
Directly after the Beatles split up, George Harrison released his third and aptly titled solo album All Things Must Pass in 1970 with the evergreen My Sweet Lord. In 1968, while he was still a Beatle, he released the album "Wonderwall Music", which was dominated by Indian classical music, and a year later, "Electronic Sound", which was dominated by Moog synthesizers.
As a solo artist he lived out his creativity. Considered one of his best albums is Living In The Material World (1973), on which he sings about the conflict between his quest for spiritual enlightenment and his superstar status. He recorded several albums with his friend, the Indian musician and sitar master Ravi Shankar.
George Harrison was considered a philanthropist. He organized many benefit concerts, including two shows on August 1, 1971 at New York's Madison Square Garden to raise funds for refugees from the Bangladesh War of Independence. "The Concert For Bangladesh" was later released as an LP.
Mortgage on House for "The Life of Brian"
His first extended tour after the Beatles ended in a fiasco in 1974 because the musician was out of shape. According to reports, this was also due to his high drug consumption at the time. He also rarely played Beatles songs, angering longtime fans. The result: Harrison largely withdrew from the stage for years.
In 1978 he founded HandMade Films, originally to help his friends from the comedy troupe Monty Python. Harrison even took out a mortgage on his house to help finance her film The Life of Brian. More film successes followed.
As a musician, he was again very present in the MTV age with the album "Cloud Nine" (1987). His James Ray cover "Got My Mind Set On You" was a number one hit in the US and reached number two in the UK. In the single "When We Was Fab," Harrison sang about his Beatles days. He then formed the Traveling Wilburys with co-producer and ELO frontman Jeff Lynne. The supergroup, which also included Bob Dylan, Tom Petty and Roy Orbison, released two albums. Her most famous song was "End Of The Line".
It wasn't until 1991 that George Harrison ventured back on tour with his buddy Eric Clapton and played a series of concerts in Japan which were released as a double album Live in Japan. The successful comeback was also his last tour. After that, the ex-Beatle only appeared occasionally and was more in the studio again. He reconciled with Paul McCartney and worked with him on various Beatles projects.
In 1997, George Harrison was diagnosed with throat cancer, a result of decades of smoking, according to the musician. "Guys, I'm not dying off you yet," he told the "News Of The World" after the tumor was successfully removed, "I'm incredibly lucky."
Raid with 40 stab wounds
Just before New Year's Eve 1999, Harrison and his wife Olivia were attacked at their home one night by a mentally ill man who stabbed him multiple times. Harrison, who lived in fear of stalkers not only since the assassination of John Lennon, was taken to the hospital with 40 stab wounds. Parts of his lungs had to be removed. In a press release, the musician then joked, "He wasn't a burglar and he certainly didn't want to audition for the Traveling Wilburys."
After he survived the attack, the next blows of fate followed in 2001, from which he never recovered: lung cancer and a malignant brain tumor. George Harrison spent his final days at a Beverly Hills estate owned by his friend McCartney. He died there on November 29, 2001 at the age of 58 surrounded by his wife, son Dhani and friends.
For years he had been working on a new studio album being completed by Dhani Harrison and Jeff Lynne. Brainwashed, George Harrison's twelfth and final studio album, was released almost exactly a year after his death. A week later, the musician was honored with a benefit concert at the Royal Albert Hall.